There was a problem last year in trying to keep the Central Park washrooms open longer hours, Lake Cowichan CAO Joe Fernandez reminds town councillors. (Gazette file)

Old issue back at Lake Cowichan council table: open hours at public washrooms

How to balance need with cost: the town has wrestled with it for many years

It just hangs around like a bad smell.

The issue of opening hours for Lake Cowichan’s public washrooms just never seems to go away. Mayors and aldermen have been wrestling with it for decades.

And it wafted into the council chambers again last week in a letter from Doug Drummond.

“As a resident and taxpayer I am writing to urge you to open our washroom facilities in village parks longer hours and year round.

“It’s shameful that we build infrastructure and then hang ‘Closed for the Season’ signs on them. I understand that ‘street people’ can cause problems but creative ways can be found to overcome that. Most of our visitors come in summer but our facilities should be available to visitors at other times of the year and for residents who want to use our parks and trails year round.

“Like a good percentage of our population, I am a senior and my bladder is not what it used to be. I and other residents in this community need these facilities when we walk our dogs or pretend to be on a fitness regime,” he said, concluding, “I’m confident that you can budget funds for washroom opening and closing, etc. We taxpayers expect it.”

Town CAO Joe Fernandez said, “We do have one washroom that’s open. The one at Saywell Park. Central Park has been closed because last year we had an issue with people staying there.”

Coun. Carolyne Austin said that she has tried to point out to people that there are quite a few washrooms around town, at businesses, and two at the Info Centre, one of which is a handicapped washroom. There is also one at the 50+ Centre, although it’s not always open on weekends.

Fernandez added, “During the summer, the washroom there is open seven days a week.”

Coun. Kristine Sandhu said, “Due to financial costs it’s hard to put staff on Saturday and Sunday to open and close them. It wouldn’t make sense. We wish we could do all these things but realistically if we have one that’s open Monday to Friday over there [at the 50+ Centre] and one that’s open at the Info Centre Saturdays and Sundays, we need to present it to the community to make people aware.”

Mayor Rod Peters said, “I was approached by several older people and the one they would like open is the one [kitty corner from the town office] by the seniors centre because they come down to get the mail and they can’t make it home.”

Fernandez said that he would respond to the letter, explaining that the info centre washrooms are open.

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